As a child, one of my most acutely distressing memories was walking down the hallway to my bedroom
just before bed, only to spot a little mouse at my feet. I freaked out, so, the mouse freaked out
and bolted into my bedroom. Let’s just say I didn’t sleep in my own bed for a few weeks after that
experience. Seeing a mouse in your house can be harrowing on its own, but there are health and safety
risks to hosting rodents. Mice are naturally drawn to the warmth of your home, so with the cold season
upon us, let’s talk about the dangers of rodents in the house and what you can do to prevent it.
How do mice get inside and what problems can they cause?
Mice can fit through the smallest of openings in your home; mice can enter the house through
improperly sealed piping or ventilation shafts, cracks in sidewalls or openings in windows. Mice can also
find their way into the house through cracks in your foundation or corner posts. Cracks in the
foundation allow a direct entry point into the property and corner posts have a hallow opening that
allows mice to climb up and into.
Especially problematic can be attached garages and chimneys. You’ll often find broken sheetrock
around attached garages that allow easy access for rodents and insects to enter the home. If there
existed a rodent Olympics, mice might take the gold for their climbing and swimming. Mice can easily
climb up and into the chimney and right down into your house.
There are solutions to all of these issues, including caulking open entry points, repairing damaged sheetrock
and cracks and installing slippery sheet metal near the flashing of your chimney to prevent mice
beginning their climb. For involved jobs such as these, we recommend you contact a professional who
can apply these fixes without causing additional damage.
Mice are already inside. What harm can they do?
If mice are already inside your property, you have to keep in mind that they reproduce quickly and are
incredibly adaptable. If you see a mouse, chances are there’s really a dozen more hiding in the walls.
If you’ve ever seen a cartoon mouse then you’ve certainly noticed the exaggerated front teeth. Mice
(and rats) have what’s referred to as monophyodont teeth. Unlike other animals – like cats or dogs that
lose their baby teeth and are eventually replaced by adult teeth – the incisor teeth on mice are never
replaced. They instead will continue to grow throughout the rodent’s entire life. This forces the rodent
to constantly chew in an effort to file down their teeth, or risk dying to overgrown teeth.
Mice have been known to chew their way through the wood, plastics, vinyl, some metals and even concrete!
Mice can even chew through steel wool, which is often used to keep rodents out. The steel wool is
rough on a mouse’s nose, so often these smart critters will just pull them out with their feet.
Once mice get into the house, they’ll quickly build a nest and get comfortable. Because of their ever-
growing teeth, you’ll often discover mice through chewed wires and drywall. Mice will also chew
through baseboards to make a quick entrance and get away holes throughout the house.
Mice don’t only pose a risk to the home through damage to property, but they can also be the concern
for many health hazards. These include fleas, ticks, and other diseases. According to the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention, mice can carry Hantavirus. This is an infection that’s transmitted to
humans when we breathe in air and dust that’s come in contact with the mice’s droppings and urine.
The more mice you have, the greater the chance of contracting this illness. Many homes have burned down
because mice have chewed through live wires and many people have gotten sick because of diseased rodents.
If you suspect rodents, its best to be on the safe side and take steps sooner rather than later.
Is there any way to keep mice out?
By now, you might be thinking that mice are impossible to keep away. It’s true that they’re incredibly
persistent. However, there are a few methods we can recommend that might help if you discover you
have an infestation.
- Thank the crazy cat lady next door
It’s no secret that a cat is a mice’s natural predator. We all know how rage-inducing it is to step outside
only to find paw prints all over your freshly washed car, but letting the cats spend some time on your
property will naturally lower the rodent population around the house. Both indoor and outdoor cats can
work wonders for suppressing an infestation. Next time you see Gladys the crazy cat lady, give her and
her 12 kitties a smile and a wave.
- Keep things minty fresh
And we’re not just talking about cleaning up the kitchen (although that’s important). Rats and mice
abhor the smell of mint, if for no other reason than its potency. Mint and peppermint both give off a
very strong odor. Because rodents like rats and mice have an incredibly acute sense of smell, mint
naturally repels these would-be intruders. Consider growing mint around windows or in flowerbeds
around areas of the house that may be subject to infiltration attempts.
- Keep certain things away from the house
Mice love to bunch up in stacks of firewood. It’s incredibly easy for mice to climb on, live in and keep
warm under stacked wood. Keeping firewood stacked near the house may be convenient for you, but it
can be just as convenient for inviting rodents into the house. Keep firewood stacked at least 20 feet
away from the house. Garbage cans full of trash is like a mouse all-you-can-eat buffet. Make sure that
you’re regularly removing garbage from the property and that you’re keeping the trash containers as far
away from the house as possible.
- Cleanliness is next to miceless-ness
When it comes to dissuading rodents from setting up shop in your home, nothing beats a good old-fashioned
cleaning! Mopping and cleaning old spills and grime from your floors, counters, and sinks can make a world of difference. It can be easy to forget to vacuum the carpets or sweep behind the couches, but remember that mice will make their nests out of the hair and dust around the house. Make sure all of the leftovers are air-tight and put away or refrigerated. Mice can sometimes be attracted to dog feces, which contain food that mice can use. If you have pets that potty in the backyard, be sure that they’re going far away from the house or be sure that you’re cleaning up their droppings.
As with anything, all of these recommendations are circumstantial and depending on your situation,
your results may vary. A mouse infestation should not be taken lightly; the longer that you allow rodents
to infest your property, the higher the chance that they’ll cause harm or damage.
Reach out to Summit Environmental Solutions at 540.658.2280 to discuss how we can quickly and safely
remove rodents and help you prevent future infestations.